Why Hesed? Loyal Love


Many people ask what hesed means, so I decided to put the intro page or our training manual reprinted here, in response to this often asked question. 

Why Hesed? 
Hesed is a word that embodies all the characteristics of God.  It is an untranslatable word that attempts to define an untranslatable God.  
Hesed can translate as love, and has many uses under the umbrella of “love.”  Some translations of hesed include kindness, mercy, loving-kindness, loyalty, unexpected favor, unsolicited love, unmerited forgiveness, enemy love, or compassionate grace. The idea that hesed expressed grace, is what caused the translators of the King James Bible to translate with words like mercy and kindness. 
The translators of the New International Version tend to translate hesed with the English word love, and though that is also an accurate translation identifying with God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”, it tends to omit the covenantal meaning intertwined in God’s hesed. 
The New Revised Standard Version translates hesed as steadfast love, to express it as the “promise keeping love” that is implied in its various Hebrew uses. The steadfast love of the Lord keeps us: “When I thought, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.” Ps. 94:18. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgression.” Ps 51:1. 
Steadfast love has the concept of loyalty. The loyalty of God:  redemption from enemies and troubles; in preservation of life from death; in quickening of spiritual life; in redemption from sin; in keeping the covenants, with Abraham; with Moses and Israel.
The loyalty of man in: kindness of men towards men, in doing favors and benefits; kindness extended to the lowly, needy and miserable; mercy. 
“Steadfast love is the long, stubborn love of God. In hesed God stays faithful to us long after we have forfeited our right to remain in covenant with him.” 

Jesus is hesed incarnate. God did not take pleasure in sacrificing His only son, but he takes pleasure in securing our relationship to Him. He desires for us to feel secure in His infinite and steadfast love towards us so we may exemplify that love towards others. 
Hesed us the steadfast love of God to the Israelites, Ruth to Naomi (Ruth 1:16), Jonathan to David (I Sam. 20:14-17), and Christ towards us, as Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord: (Rom. 8:38:39)
More Hesed Scriptures:
Ps. 136 The word translated love is hesed.
 Hesed in God remembering His people: Jeremiah 12:15; Ezekiel 39:25; Isaiah 30:18, 63:9; Habakkuk 3:2; Samuel 24:14; Psalm 23:25-26; 40:11; 51:1; 69:16; 79:8; 103:4. 
8He has shown all you people what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.                  Micah 6:8
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.        Matt. 23:23-24 
 Rabbi Simlai in the third century noted that Moses gave us 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands. David in Psalm 15 reduced them to eleven: Isaiah—in 33:14, 15—made them six: Micah 6:8 binds them into three: and Habakkuk reduces them all to one, namely—”The just shall live by faith.”  (Hab. 2:4); (Romans 1:17)
So, by being “steadfast” and “loyal” to the THREE most recent positives set forth by Micah, executed by the ONE (faith) stated by Habakkuk – knowing faith without works is dead, being alone, we express God’s hesed – through loyal acts of love in action and deeds. (James 2:20) 

In ministry and in our personal lives, we have learned that it is only HOPE in God’s loyal love, His covenant grace, that has kept our feet firm in the darkest hours of our lives, and the lives of those we minister to. Hesed Hope – hope in God’s loyal love.